Article published on December 9, 2016.
The parameters for our nb Reading Group Book of the Year have changed very little over the years – we have always been interested in the book which has most engaged groups during the course of the previous twelve months. It’s true that latterly we have moved proceedings to social media to reach a wider caucus. And for the sake of focus, in recent years we have introduced longlists to remind you of the great books that (might?) have slipped from memory (a problem we all encounter more these days). However, this year we have taken the brave step of introducing some books we think you will love or that we have been crusading for in our pages. In light of which please forgive our self-aggrandisement and see how this year’s selection could/might/will (delete as appropriate) broaden your group’s horizons in the coming months. So without further ado I give you this year’s delightful dozen – and all you have to do is vote.
Laura Barnett’s The Versions of Us was one of our first otwofs, there was a nudge Verdict, a Q&A with the author and it became one of our first nudge Recommended Reads. Yes, this was all online but you can’t say we didn’t get behind this book!
OK, Jessie Burton’s The Muse is still in hardback but as a Recommended Read (nb89) the speed with which copies left the building left me in no doubt as to how much you had enjoyed The Miniaturist – and how much you would like this one.
Ditto Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep which was published in paperback on Boxing Day for those desperate to redeem those Christmas book tokens. Met her at Guildford Readers Day – quiet and thoughtful if a little tired given a 5am start to her day.
Ah, third hardback in a row and Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven isn’t due in paperback until mid-January 2017 but he is such a nice man and I have crusaded for all of his books so far so wasn’t about to step away from this one.
The quietly impressive Anne Enright writes quietly impressive books and The Green Road is no exception. Alastair loved it plus there’s quite a back catalogue to explore – I feel a Retrospective coming on.
Claire Fuller is Mel’s new BFF (see front cover, interview and review!); so there’s Swimming Lessons to savour this year but if you haven’t already devoured Our Endless Numbered Days then you have a treat in store, says Mel and me.
As another Recommended Read (nb88) Julia Heaberlin’s Black-Eyed Susans shot up the bestseller charts. Our Mr BookNoir, Mike Stafford, has to shoulder some of the blame here as he brought Julia’s book to our attention.
As parents we all thank whichever god we pray to for the safety and health of our children but Jem Lester’s Shtum was a moving testimony to just what depths of love we have when circumstances conspire against ‘normality’ . An emotional high.
I whinged about timeshifts in the narrative of Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place but with a legion of fans – just search nudge for our retrospective – there is no way this isn’t going to be a staple of reading groups throughout the land.
Phaedra Patrick must be fed up with comparisons of her The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper with The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry. To which I would say, enjoy and see the sales roll in; and who knows, perhaps it will do even better than Harold? (Sorry, Phaedra, partly our fault for championing it as one of our Recommended Reads!)
Another Recommended Read, Holly Seddon’s Try Not to Breathe is only the second Noir title on this list and one with enough meat to make for a gory discussion. That man Stafford is to blame yet again!
When God Was a Rabbit launched Sarah Winman into an unsuspecting world and A Year of Marvellous Ways took things to another level including Richard & Judy-dom. We tried to make contact but couldn’t pull the right strings – didn’t stop us (and you?) loving it.
Guy Pringle, December 2016
And now you have to choose just one and tell us why!
VOTING CLOSES ON 10TH FEBRUARY, 2017 AND THE RESULTS WILL BE SHARED ON 10TH MARCH
Voting for the nb Reading Group Book of the Year has now closed. Results will be announced on 10th March.
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